Are Leadership made or born?
For centuries people have debated whether leaders are born or made. Several decades ago researchers started trying to answer the question. The debate goes on, even though we know the answer. It turns out to be a little of both. Leaders are sort of born and they're always made. Knowing the details will help you develop effective leaders for your company.
Leaders are Always Made
Leadership can be learned by anyone with the basics. But an awful lot of leadership cannot be taught. Leaders are made, not born, and made more by themselves than by any external means. Second that no leader sets out to be a leader per se, but rather to express himself freely and fully. – Warren Bennis, The truth is the most people have the potential to become effective leaders. The real issue is that leadership takes time to develop. People need time to figure out what they’re passionate about People need time to understand their personal vision and purpose People need time to learn how to express who they.
People need time to learn how to use their unique strengths and skills People need time to learn how to express their purpose in their own unique way. That's because leadership is an apprentice trade. Leaders learn about 80 percent of their craft on the job. They learn from watching other leaders and emulating their behavior. They choose role models and seek out mentors. They ask other leaders about how to handle situations. Leaders improve by getting feedback and using it. The best leaders seek feedback from their boss, their peers and their subordinates. Then they modify their behavior so that they get better results. Leaders learn by trying things out and then critiquing their performance.
The only failure they recognize is the failure to learn from experience. In their book, Geeks and Geezers, Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas identify the special power of what they call "crucibles." These are trials which teach hard lessons that leaders use as the basis of their strength in later crises. Many of these events can be called "failures," but leaders turn the bad situation to good by learning from it. Effective leaders take control of their own development. They seek out training opportunities that will make a difference that will make a difference in their performance. Effective leaders look for training programs that will help them develop specific skills that they can use on the job.
Then, they when they return to work, they devote specific, deliberate effort to mastering in real life what they learned in the classroom. Marshall Goldsmith and Howard Morgan studied the progress of 88,000 managers who had been to leadership development training. The people who returned from the training, talked about it, and did deliberate work to apply their learning were judged as becoming more effective leaders. The ones who didn't showed no improvement. If you're responsible for leadership development for your company, you should structure your support for your leaders to recognize that most leadership learning happens on the job. Help people develop leadership development plans. Help them select specific skills training and then work on transferring skills from the training to the job.
Help them find role models, mentors and peers to discuss leadership issues. Help your leaders get feedback from their boss, peers and subordinates. Work to create the culture of candor that will make that feedback helpful and effective. Don't stop there. Make sure that you evaluate your leaders on their leadership work. Reward them and hold them accountable for accomplishing the mission through the group. And hold them accountable for caring for their people and helping them grow and develop. A Leader's Growth is never done
Leadership learning is a lifetime activity. You're never done because there's always more to learn. There are always skills you need to improve. Effective leaders seek out development opportunities that will help them learn new skills. Those might be project assignments or job changes. What they have in common is that the leader develops knowledge and skills that can be used elsewhere. Effective leaders also seek out opportunities that will increase their visibility. The fact is that great performance alone will not propel you to the top in your career. You also have to be visible to people who make decisions about promotions and assignments. If you're responsible for developing leaders in your company, set up programs to give your leaders both kinds of development opportunities over the course of their careers.
There's no magic formula for developing quality leaders in your company. But if you select potential leaders with the essential traits, then support them with training, feedback, on-the-job learning and development experiences and hold them accountable for results, you'll have the leaders you need to shape your company's future. To understand how the born vs. made We asked the C-level executives what they think are the most important elements that create a leader: traits, experiences, or training? Made believe that experiences are more important in creating a leader than are either traits or training (experiences=46%, training = 34%; traits = 20%; see Exhibit 2). In contrast, Born believe that traits (41%) and experiences (38%) are about equally important, and training (21%) is about half as important as either traits or experiences.
This shows that Made think that what people learn over time is more important to their development than do Born. At the same time, Born (not surprisingly) place substantially more importance on traits than do Made. If made and Born have different beliefs about what is most important in creating a leader, does that affect their beliefs about development? Are born less supportive of training than Made because Born don’t think that training is particularly important?
What Good leadership looks like to born and made?
If Mades and Borns believe people become leaders in different ways, do they also have different beliefs about what good leadership looks like or means? As part of this research, we asked people to tell us what they think good leadership looks like by selecting an image of leadership from 17 provided options, and choosing up to five adjectives to describe the image they chose. Four images stood out from all the images as the most popular chosen. We found that the image of leadership most frequently chosen by both Borns and Mades was the same: the Music Conductor – someone who stands in the front and directs and coordinates the work of the orchestra.
The conductor isn’t playing each of the instruments; instead he or she is doing what is needed to coordinate all of the musicians to play their different instruments together to make music – rather than cacophony. Borns and Mades chose substantially the same adjectives such as “uses talents of different members effectively” and “sets direction” to describe the Music Conductor image.
Lifelong learning is critical
Once leaders reach the C-suite, some believe they are free of the need to continue with development and coaching. However, Brown says that is the “worst mistake they can make” because it means they have become complacent. “There is no stigma attached to showing a commitment to personal development,” says Brown. “In fact, it gives a positive signal to the organisation and more importantly to the team that they lead.” She explains that a leader often doesn’t get honest feedback once they have reached this level so it is important to find ways to gain that perspective. Having an executive coach is a positive way to facilitate this and stretch a leader’s development. “A belief I hold strongly to, and something I have also shared with my wider group of leaders, is the importance of setting aside at least 10% of your time weekly for self-reflection and learning,” says Brown.
Quotations "Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile."bVince Lombardi "Good leaders make people feel that they're at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning." Warren G. Bennis "A good leader is not the person who does things right, but the person who finds the right things to do." Anthony T. Dadovano "Leadership rests not only upon ability, not only upon capacity; having the capacity to lead is not enough. The leader must be willing to use it. His leadership is then based on truth and character.
There must be truth in the purpose and will power in the character." Vince Lombardi "The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That's nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born." Warren G. Bennis "All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership." John Kenneth Galbraith "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." John Quincy Adams "The quality of leadership, more than any other single factor, determines the success or failure of an organization."
Fred Fiedler and Martin Chemers in Improving Leadership Effectiveness "Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy." Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf "Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you're in control, they're in control." Tom Landry "Leadership is not magnetic personality — that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not 'making friends and influencing people' that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to high sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations." Peter F. Drucker